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To the Blockchain And Beyond: Are Security Tokens the Third Wave in Fintech?

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In a competitive landscape, Initial Coin Offering (ICO) funding has become a tough nut to crack. With various ICO scandals leaving a sour taste in investors mouths, more sophisticated offerings such as Security Token Offerings (STOs) find themselves subject to increased scrutiny.

The challenge lies in their unfamiliarity amongst most financial professionals. Despite being a model closer to traditional financial products, adoption and understanding in mainstream finance continues at a slow pace.

While the mainstream has been tentative to adopt security tokens, they have recently gained unparalleled popularity in the cryptocurrency industry. Security tokens, security-type certificates or tokens registered under a legal and regulatory framework, are seen by several key industry players as a more legitimate way to perform ICOs.

However, beyond this, security tokens also have the potential to completely revolutionise global financial practices like securities tokenisation.

For securities trading, the benefits of blockchain boil down to three key areas: circulation and liquidity, versatility and security and the securitisation of new assets.

Circulation and liquidity

The current structure of the securities market means that cross-border transactions are limited to a few exchanges only, and can often be slow and costly – trade reconciliation work has to be done manually, along with other labour intensive database tasks. Token exchanges have the potential to solve this – they now operate 24 hours, 365 days a year, trading is relatively liquid and transactions are settled in the same working day with no clearing period, otherwise known as ‘T+0’.

Furthermore, these tokens can be traded in Satoshi units, which have nine decimal places – enabling smaller trades to be done and lowering the investment threshold, meaning more people can invest than ever before.

Should we apply this technology to the securities market, it would have the potential to solve the circulation and liquidity problem, as well as making transactions easier by removing cross-border restrictions.

Versatility and security

Industry adoption of security tokens could also provide some strengths when it comes to versatility, as they can have a high degree of interoperability. By tokenising any form of asset, you open it up to be traded for a much wider range of things, like security tokens, utility tokens or digital currencies, rather than just another security token.

The decentralised ledger system also means that it would be more difficult to hack compared to a centralised server system, making ownership of the tokens more secure.

In addition, security tokens offer more security than other cryptocurrencies, as everything is linked to the individual’s ownership. For Bitcoin, if you are a victim of a hacked account or someone gets hold of your private keys, the Bitcoins in question would most likely be gone and the chances of you proving ownership of the Bitcoins are slim.

However, due to a tangible underlying asset, security token hacks take a different form. While hacks could lead ownership to be debatable, the asset in question will still be there. And as long as the company issuing the security tokens has been through sufficient Know Your Customer (KYC) checks, ownership can be resolved. Furthermore, stealing a security token from someone would leave a transaction record on the blockchain, which is the digital equivalent of leaving your fingerprints all over the crime scene.

Securitising new assets

Tokens are unique in that that they can securitise various forms of assets including both tangible and intangible assets. This has already had some success, with the recent auction of Andy Warhol’s 14 Small Electric Chairs, an iconic contemporary art piece featuring an electric chair, allowing art lovers to buy a share in the painting.

This would also contribute to liquidity and interoperability of assets, as these small units can subsequently be traded. This goes beyond art – in the future we can expect to see assets like office buildings operating on a fractionalised ownership model, allowing smaller investors who previously would not be able to afford investment in this asset class to participate.

A ‘super’ future for securities?

blockchainAs a result, not only do securities tokens provide a safer and more sustainable alternative to the ICO model, but they also have the potential to revolutionise the traditional securities market, possibly opening up the idea of ‘super securities’ further down the line.

Through blockchain technology, securities can be made more accessible, liquid, and secure by removing third-party risk and lowering transaction costs. Should the trend continue, we could see security tokens becoming standard practice, eventually replacing existing securities to become ‘super securities’.

With this in mind, those who herald security tokens as third wave in Fintech may well be right, particularly when it comes to revolutionising securities trading. However, how we approach this next technological step is crucial. If implemented correctly, security tokens could significantly improve existing processes and make investment accessible to all, bringing positive change not only for the future of cryptocurrencies, but also for the wider financial markets.

This guest post was contributed by Jack Chia, MD of Cryptology.

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The History of Bitcoin, the First Cryptocurrency

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Bitcoin (BTC) has taken investors and the rest of the globe on a wild ride from its modest origins in 2008. The Bitcoin price fluctuated for over a decade, eventually reaching tens of thousands of dollars. Read on to learn about the history of Bitcoin. 

Bitcoin is a decentralized electronic trade between individuals. In layman’s terms, individuals may transfer money to one another without going through a bank or intermediary. Bitcoin was created to facilitate financial transactions without dependence on the government or large financial institutions. Bitcoin users may deal with one another through the blockchain, which tracks transactions and the bitcoin price using a “proof-of-work” technique.

Some believe Bitcoin will someday replace fiat money. Despite Bitcoin’s shortcomings, venture investors remain hopeful about the progress in the Bitcoin price achieved since the cryptocurrency’s inception. The emergence of Bitcoin has gathered a group of individuals thrilled about the advent of cryptocurrencies and the possibilities they will provide for companies and investors. Furthermore, Bitcoin has spawned dozens of alternative digital currencies.

When Did Bitcoin Start?

During the 2008 Great Recession, the role of banks in the financial sector was investigated. This was when Bitcoin was created, and a Bitcoin price was established. People claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto published a white paper about the problems with centralized money management and the importance of trust when dealing with other people’s money.

Transaction costs can add up in the traditional financial system when a transaction can be undone or changed by a third party. The goal of bitcoin was to eliminate the need for a middleman in commercial transactions. Instead of depending on banks and other institutions outside the network to verify network integrity, the Bitcoin system employs cryptographic proof.

The first block was mined in 2009, marking the formal launch of the blockchain. A week on, the first test transaction was done. The only individuals who could obtain it for the first several months were miners who could check the Bitcoin price on the blockchain. Miners would exchange Bitcoins for no other purpose than to have fun. Miners are individuals who utilize very powerful computers to solve complicated mathematical problems to discover new Bitcoins and ensure that previous Bitcoin transactions are honest and accurate.

For another year, there weren’t any major transactions involving the new medium of exchange. Shortly thereafter, in 2010, a Florida resident offered some 10,000 BTC in a bid to have the priceless $25 commodity come home. His name was Pizza John. With this deal, the world had its first genuine Bitcoin prices set at some four Bitcoins for every penny. On average, this haul of Bitcoin compares to approximately $400 million in modern money. Interestingly, crypto enthusiasts have set aside May 22 to mark the groundbreaking occasion, known as “Pizza Day.”

The Price of Bitcoin in the Past

Bitcoin Millionaire

One feature that distinguishes Bitcoin price is its volatility. Because Bitcoin is a novel asset, there is a lot of speculation about it, and its value is widely discussed. Despite fluctuating prices, Bitcoin’s value has skyrocketed since its inception in 2009. Bitcoin’s history has been chiefly one of fast growth, punctuated by a few dramatic price declines here and there. Bitcoin surpassed the $1 milestone in February 2011.

Bitcoin price was less than $2 initially, but then it went up. It had its first bubble in June 2011, rising to above $31 before falling into the single-digit price range. After more than two years, Bitcoin finally reached $200 in April 2013. It was worth more than $1,000 by November of the same year. In November 2017, the fee was raised to $10,000. In November 2021, it reached a high of close to $68,990. That doesn’t mean the journey was without incident.

Bitcoin was called a bubble in 2017 because investors paid more for it than the Bitcoin price was worth. According to Furo, the 2017-2018 bubble was largely caused by an increase in initial coin offerings or ICOs. Some experienced investors compare the Bitcoin bubble to the end-of-the-century internet boom.

Everyone was talking about Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, a new network or protocol, from wealthy hedge fund investors to your neighbor. The ICO craze boosted the cryptocurrency market by billions of dollars. The beginning of 2018 saw a significant drop in the Bitcoin price due to psychological and technical issues. When the price of Bitcoin fell, a “mature market” developed around it.

Because of these changes in the Bitcoin price, the Bitcoin market has matured considerably. Established efficient and intelligent exchanges are taking the necessary steps to create a self-sustaining and viable market for investing and trading in Cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, and key institutional-grade participants are following suit.

Bitcoin Today

Right now, the Bitcoin price is around $37,000. It’s far away from its all-time high and post-peak low. Earle claims that no one knows the inventor- Satoshi Nakamoto. This topic can be discussed, speculated, and may lead to conspiracy theories.

One of these theories holds that Bitcoin is a “skunk work” or top-secret project of a company like Alphabet Inc. or an intelligence service. Others believe it is a “trap-door project” that will be taken over by a bad person waiting in the wings. Earle considers Bitcoin’s present to be more important than its past. He argues that the predominant evidence points to two primary, widely held ideas. The first is: Like anything else, money is actually a good. Secondly, money results from a given market process.

Cryptocurrencies have almost wholly supplanted conventional money, but the Bitcoin price is still maturing, and Bitcoin is becoming a value store and unit of account.

Bitcoin Tomorrow

So, what is the future of Bitcoin as a cryptocurrency and the Bitcoin price? Nobody knows, but Furo believes it would be lovely and intriguing.

New, low-cost, and simple investment options are becoming a reality. The Bitcoin price will make acquiring bitcoins even more accessible to many individuals. Such access would be comparable to that of well-known markets. Keep in mind that no investment is without risk. 

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Weekly Roundup: Binance Announces Zero Bitcoin Trading Fees to Celebrate 5th Anniversary & More

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In this week’s news roundup, you’ll read about Binance announcing a fee-free spot trading on various Bitcoin trading pairs, Celo launching a Web3 fund geared towards African startups looking to transition from Web2 to Web3, US commodities regulator filing a civil charge on a South African Bitcoin scam for fraud, and more.

Binance Announces Zero Bitcoin Trading Fees to Celebrate 5th Anniversary

BinanceTo celebrate its fifth anniversary, Binance has announced that it will eliminate trading fees on a variety of Bitcoin spot trading pairs.

Although Binance has always offered and maintained the lowest spot trading fees in the cryptocurrency industry, this move will see the exchange establish itself as the global leader in pricing.

Speaking about the announcement, Binance Founder and CEO “CZ” (Changpeng Zhao) said: “In line with our user-first philosophy, Binance has always strived to provide the most competitive fees in the industry. At its core, Binance is an inclusive platform with accessibility in mind. Eliminating the trading fees on selected BTC spot trading pairs is another move towards that direction.”

From July 8, Binance users will enjoy zero trading fees on 13 stablecoin and fiat combinations including BTC/USDT, BTC/BUSD, BTC/USDC, BTC/EUR, BTC/TRY, among others. The new fees will be in effect until further notice. This means that users on the crypto exchange will be able to enjoy fee-free trading beyond the two weeks planned for anniversary celebrations.

Celo Launches a Web3 Fund for African Startups Looking to Migrate to Web3 From Web2

Celo, a mobile-first blockchain ecosystem geared towards building an all-inclusive financial system, has announced the launch of its Web3 fund that will support African startups developing across payments, remittance, related financial services, savings, and virtual assets.

Through its VC partners, the Celo Africa Web3 Fund will provide financial investments to African startups. In addition, the company will offer technical assistance via the Celo Developer Guild and its technical partners such as Ape Unit and Tatum. Both the financial investments and technical assistance offered will make it possible for Web2 founders in the African continent to adopt a strategy and grow their business to achieve deeper financial inclusion, lower transaction costs, and more affordable credit.

Celo, together with its various partners, has already made an open call for Web2 founders in Africa to apply for the Celo Africa Web3 Fund by July 15, 2022, and has pledged that they will support shortlisted candidates through their transition to Web3.

The fund will include an in-person workshop across five African countries with the first in-country workshop slated for July 26, 2022. Additional workshops are expected to follow in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda between July and November 2022.

South African Company Charged by the US CFTC for Bitcoin Fraud Worth Over $1.7 Billion

The US commodities regulator, Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), has filed civil charges against Mirror Trading International Proprietary Limited (MTI), a South African company, and its CEO, for running a fraudulent Bitcoin commodity pool worth over $1.7 billion and over registration violations.

According to CFTC, the company and its CEO, Cornelius Johannes Steynberg, solicited Bitcoin online between May 2018 and March 2021, from thousands of people, including 23,000 Americans. Additionally, it said that the company instead of trading forex as it had registered itself as, embezzled pool funds, lied about using trading bots, faked account statements, misrepresented trading and performance, and used a fake broker in instances where the trade actually happened.

The Ponzi scheme is the largest involving bitcoin fraud the CTFC has handled. Moreover, the regulator also stated that Steynberg was a fugitive until he was recently arrested in Brazil by Interpol.

Cardano Accelerator Adaverse Funds Seso Property Marketplace to Boost Cardano’s Adoption

Adaverse Fund, a Cardano VC accelerator fund created to boost the development of Web3-based solutions in the African continent, has announced its participation in Seso Global’s fundraising.

Seso Global is an online real estate property marketplace that leverages blockchain technology to reinvent Africa’s real estate industry. The company utilizes blockchain to provide a marketplace that supports secure and risk-free digital land transactions between buyers, financial institutions, land agencies, property owners, and professionals that service the real estate value chain.

The funding round saw venture capital firms, Adaverse, Columbus Angel Network, Emurgo Africa, Kepple Africa Ventures, Moabi Group, and Rising Tide take part. In addition, Jamie Broderick, Albert Essient, and Ibrahim Sagna also took part as angel investors.

This partnership is key for Seso Global as it provides us with necessary partners and experts to expand our Web3 offerings. We are now seeing the growth of Blockchain real estate solutions and with Adaverse, Seso will be a trailblazer for the industry in Africa. We are confident that Cardano will see strong growth in Africa due to its lower energy needs and cost of the Blockchain.” says Daniel Bloch, CEO and co-founder of Seso Global.

Adaverse was established in September 2021 as a joint venture partnership between Everest Ventures and EMURGO Africa to not only identify but also provide valuable support and resources to propitious African founders developing the next wave of Web3 decentralized applications (DApps) in decentralized finance (DeFi), gaming, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the metaverse, and more on Cardano’s third-generation and environmentally-sustainable blockchain.

To learn more about Bitcoin, download the Bitcoin Beginner’s Handbook for free.

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Amber Group Announces Q3 2022 Launch of Openverse, the Gateway Into the Metaverse

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SINGAPORE, 11 May 2022Amber Group, the leading global digital asset platform, today announced its entry into the metaverse with the launch of Openverse, a Web3 enablement platform for creators, brands, and businesses. A culmination of Amber Group’s multi-disciplinary expertise in digital architecture and blockchain-native infrastructure, Openverse serves as a gateway to the metaverse, empowering Web2 creators, brands and businesses with tools and services to transition into Web3.

Amber GroupWith the metaverse economy projected to reach $13 trillion by 2030, Openverse marks Amber Group’s venture into Web3 community building. Due to launch in Q3 2022, Openverse is a significant milestone in Amber Group’s plans to aid businesses, industries and societies as they transition into Web3. As a one-stop platform, Openverse will create entry points into the metaverse by delivering end-to-end creative and digital infrastructures for creators, brands, and businesses.

“Digital assets are the first step in realizing a decentralized future where people are empowered to create and connect with online communities, unlocking new digital experiences. While there has been a lot of interest in the metaverse, it remains largely conceptual. With Openverse, we are taking a solid step towards creating this digital reality for all. Backed by our expertise and partnerships within the digital asset ecosystem, Openverse is at the forefront of onboarding businesses and communities into the metaverse, unlocking the true potential of decentralization,” said Amber Group’s Chief Executive Officer, Michael Wu.

Openverse is designed to be a Web3 enablement platform, supported by leading real-time 3D rendering technology to create an experiential digital world for all users. The platform will be accessible on mobile, desktop and VR platforms, and will come equipped with features such as real-time content interaction, gameplay, customizable digital avatars and an NFT valuation system. Openverse will also leverage Amber Group’s flagship digital asset platform, WhaleFin, for its crypto financial services, creating synergies with the company’s thriving consumer business line to expand the reach of its digital asset services.

“We are excited to launch Openverse and convert the possibilities of the metaverse into reality in the next few months. As we develop a gateway for everyone to journey into the metaverse together, we are also building a strong line-up of partnerships with gaming studios, sporting brands, digital artists, and creators in an effort to bridge the gap between physical and virtual economies. Not only will this encourage more Web2 users to migrate into the metaverse, it will also herald a new era for digital assets worldwide,” said Openverse’s Chief Executive Officer, Jo Xu.

About Amber Group

Amber Group is a leading digital asset platform operating globally with offices in Asia, Europe, and the Americas. The firm provides a full range of digital asset services spanning investing, financing, and trading. Amber Group is backed by prominent investors including Sequoia, Temasek, Paradigm, Tiger Global, Dragonfly, Pantera, Coinbase Ventures, and Blockchain.com.

For more information, please visit www.ambergroup.io.

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